Meet Your Volunteer Firefighter

Posted September 20, 2016 at 5:49 am by

Gilbert Venegas, FF/WF2 - Sheila Harley photo

Gilbert Vene­gas, FF/WF2 — Sheila Harley photo

Gilbert Vene­gas is one of the newest mem­bers of San Juan Island Fire & Res­cue, but not real­ly. He orig­i­nal­ly joined San Juan Island Fire & Res­cue in 2010; moved off-island for a few years and as of Feb­ru­ary 2016, he is back to the depart­ment for good.

This is Gilbert’s sto­ry in a nutshell:
After grad­u­at­ing high school in north coun­ty San Diego, Gilbert decid­ed to ded­i­cate his edu­ca­tion to becom­ing a career fire fighter.
He attend­ed Palo­mar Com­mu­ni­ty Col­lege major­ing in Fire Sci­ence & EMT pro­grams. He moved to San Juan Island and joined SJIF&R to gain some on-the-job expe­ri­ence. Gilbert was able to hone his skills by tak­ing the wild­lands and struc­tur­al fire fight­ing class­es here. He did go back to San Diego every cou­ple of months to see fam­i­ly and friends.

It was on one such vis­it, New Year’s Eve 2011, when he met his wife to be, Kelsey. He decid­ed to stay in San Diego and put him­self through EMT school. They moved to Las Vegas in late 2012 to focus on Kelsey’s job and took the oppor­tu­ni­ty to save up mon­ey for their wed­ding at Roche Harbor.

After their wed­ding, they moved back to San Diego where Gilbert was hired by a local ambu­lance com­pa­ny. After a year, he was accept­ed into San Pasqual Reser­va­tion Fire Acad­e­my where he attend­ed class­es for twelve hours a day, six days a week, last­ing four months. Upon grad­u­at­ing from SPRFA he received 32 indi­vid­ual fire cer­ti­fi­ca­tions, some being inter­na­tion­al­ly rec­og­nized. Gilbert was also hon­ored as a squad leader.

In Feb­ru­ary of this year, he and Kelsey came back to the Island to attend Chief Steve Mar­ler’s memo­r­i­al ser­vice and after falling in love with San Juan Island all over again, made the deci­sion to move here permanently .

“When you find some­thing that you love to do, it is not work”, Gilbert says. He is assigned to Sta­tion 31 and absolute­ly loves Mon­day night drill and com­mu­ni­ty out­reach events. “It’s great teach­ing the ele­men­tary school chil­dren how to Stop, Drop & Smoth­er — so much fun.” He espe­cial­ly likes rope res­cue and vehi­cle extri­ca­tion. Wild­land fires are hard work but he loves it so does­n’t feel like its hard work!

He spent sev­er­al years get­ting back here to the Island but Gilbert, Kelsey and their dogs Chew­bac­ca and Kai are so glad they made it.

San Juan Island Fire & Res­cue wel­comes all inter­est­ed men and women ages 16 years and above to drop by the Mullis Street Sta­tion and make an appoint­ment to see what we are all about. Look on line at www.sjifire.org for lots of good infor­ma­tion. Or, you could view our Face­book page: San­Juan Island Fire & Res­cue. Our phone # is (360) 378‑5334. We would be pleased to talk with you.

You can support the San Juan Update by doing business with our loyal advertisers, and by making a one-time contribution or a recurring donation.

No comments yet. Be the first!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

By submitting a comment you grant the San Juan Update a perpetual license to reproduce your words and name/web site in attribution. Inappropriate, irrelevant and contentious comments may not be published at an admin's discretion. Your email is used for verification purposes only, it will never be shared.

Receive new post updates: Entries (RSS)
Receive followup comments updates: RSS 2.0